Spring Turkey Hunting | Food Plots, Scouting, and Bale Blind Placement for Turkey Hunting
Its early morning, you’re in a bale blind, overlooking a grown up field. The sun is on the way up, and you have just received enough light to make out the silhouette of the tom on his roost. You have lucked into the perfect spot. Your hearts pumping, the tom is hammering, and you couldn’t be surer that this will happen, you think everything is in place for a successful, perfect turkey hunt. However, once the sun peaks its head over the trees the tom flies down in a different direction, hits the ground, and bolts to the next county…the hunt is over, and you are left dumbfounded with several questions. Was it my calling? My set up? Was it this field? While it’s unsure why or what ruined the hunt, one thing is for sure, you did not do your homework! The main reason that often lays behind a failed turkey hunt, is often what’s behind a failed deer hunt…lack of preparation. This groundwork starts now. Do not make the mistake of being overdue on these 3 critical things you should be doing right now for spring turkey hunting.
When it comes to spring turkey hunting everything and everyone has two thing that stands out, from the hunters, websites, and videos, to the TV shows, web shows, and blogs. They focus on giving you advice, tips, and tactics on how to call and how to use decoys. While calling and decoying are vital to the success of a turkey hunt, they should not absorb the majority of the attention. When they do, hunters themselves begin to forget the other key aspects. Once a turkey hunter learns the turkey talk, and knows how to set up turkey decoys, he will realize there are several things not mentioned in “turkey hunting advice or tips” that should be mentioned and considered before turkey season starts.
Planting Food Plots
One thing that is often forgot about when it comes to turkey hunting, is food plots. Turkey hunters continuously come into this problem, and it goes ignored year after year. What’s the most commonly encountered setting for turkey hunting? Take a guess! You probably would have said one of the two, open timber or a barren Ag field, and you would be right. While those all can produce turkeys, and could lead to successful hunts, you might want to try your hand at actually creating a turkey hunting food plot. The correct food plot will draw turkeys, especially more often than the open timber or a desolate Ag field.
Clover and alfalfa food plots are excellent spring food plots to kill turkeys in. Yes this basically includes the everyday hayfield with red clover species and alfalfa. But for the more determined, a specific food plot, planted in white clover or alfalfa, can create the optimum feeding area and strut zone for the spring.
With turkey seasons already opening up in southern states, plant or over seed your existing food plots as early as you can. Given a good rain, ample warm weather, and sunshine, your clover and alfalfa plots should be established enough to draw in birds (depending on the exact opening date of your season).
Scouting Spring Turkeys
Scouting turkeys before the season opens is also an underestimated turkey hunting tactic. The assumption that “turkeys will always be in that field” can cause over-confidence, and a real shock when the hunter realizes there isn’t a tom within earshot on opening morning. Scouting doesn’t take a lot of time and it can give you a lot of useful information to get on a bird fast. There are three types of scouting you should consider starting now before it’s too late.
- Glassing- Once birds transition from winter flocks they will switch from feeding on the last acorns in the timber, to spring break up, and concentrating on feeding in green fields. You are able to glass these new food sources with certainty of some sort of regular pattern. Keep your head low, don’t spoke the birds, and glass food plots, fields, feeding areas, and strut zones.
- Locating- While roosting the bird the night before is one of the most successful proven strategies when turkey hunting, locating them with the same locater calls can give you a good idea of where they will be different parts of the day. The highest point of the property gives you the clearest line of sound to the bird. Let out a crow or owl call and listen for the response.
- Trail Cameras- Once the flock separates and their food sources change to green fields a hunter should become dependent on trail cameras. Just as in deer (if not more), patterns can be honed in on and taken advantage of. Placing cameras over logging roads, field openings, and over food plots can have you dialed in on birds without spending the time on actually going out and locating them. Spring and summer require a lot from a camera, find out what the requirements are for the best cameras for spring/summer here. Placing out a quality camera on one of these locations with the right mode and settings can/will reveal a lot of information before opening morning.
Now marks the perfect time to begin to scout. Winter flocks are breaking up, acorns have been devoured from the timber, and spring green up is pushing the birds into food plots and fields. The final 2-3 weeks before the turkey season opens is when you need to scout the hardest, but be careful to not spook any of the birds.
Placing and Selecting the Right Ground Blind – Have you considered a Bale Blind?
Once you have patterned the birds to a general idea of where they roost and what field they will be going to in the morning, you will be ready to make your move. Turkeys are pretty oblivious when it comes to ground blinds, meaning you can more often than not get away with placing a ground blind out the same morning you will hunt. However, if you know exactly where the birds will be, you should ideally put a blind out in the final weeks before the season. If the hunting blind sticks out like a sore thumb you can bet they might avoid that section of the field or food plot. If you have still not put out your blind, or have not purchased one yet, then there are several things to consider. If you are looking to purchase a ground blind for turkey hunting this year, understand that the best turkey hunting blind will need to have these requirements.
- Blends In- A good hunting blind will be able to blend into the setting it is placed. Besides the obvious camo pattern, blinds have recently shift in the thought and ideal. The normal square ground blinds are now joined by popularity growing Bale Blinds. The bale blinds that are now available, create a perfect solution for certain turkey hunting situations. Food plots, pastures, and hay fields are now more easily hunted. Before bale blinds, sticking a regular camo square ground blind in the open filed type scenario would be blatantly obvious to any bird. The bale blinds look inconspicuous in this setting, giving the idea that it’s just another round bale
- Is Spacious- When it comes to turkey hunting out of a blind, space is everything! Whether you are bow hunting turkeys out of the blind, filming your hunt, or taking youth out on opening morning, the more space you have the more successful your hunt will be. Let’s think about everything that might go into the blind. Chairs, bow or gun, camera equipment, backpack, decoys ( if you take one out of your set during the hunt), another person, and potentially a lot more gear depending on what you need to be comfortable in a blind. A blind with ample room, a width around 64+ inches, is ideal.
- Has Multiple Windows- This one’s obvious, the more windows, the more shooting angle and opportunities you get. A ground blind with multiple windows, different types/sections of windows, and minimal blind spots is ideal. These windows need to be dead silent to take down and back up, you never know what a hunt with throw at you.
- Has a Flat Black Interior- Staying hidden inside the blind is a must for turkey hunting. A flat black interior on a bind creates the ability to be invisible inside it. When turkey hunting, keep only the front window facing the decoys open, closing up the surrounding windows will restrict the light that’s coming into the blind, and get rid of any silhouettes. When hunting out of a blind, do not wear your normal camo pattern. Wear a black top, black hat, and apply face paint to darken your face, this will virtually eliminate any chance the birds see movement in the blind.
- Be Portable- Many turkey hunters simply do not like turkey hunting out of blinds. When asked, majority of hunters simply do not like the idea of not being able to move around on a bird. Having a blind that can be portable can be huge advantage on a turkey hunt. A blind that can be packed up, and moved easily, is ideal.
Muddy Portable Bail Blind 2015 ATA Show
(Video)- The new Muddy Portable Bale Blind revealed at the 2015 ATA Show. This blind gives the features and look of the old Muddy Bale Blind, but is now portable.
Again, the main reason that lays behind a failed turkey hunt, is often what’s behind a failed deer hunt…lack of preparation. This year’s preparation starts now, do not make the mistake of being overdue on these 3 critical things you should be doing right now for spring turkey hunting. Do your homework, put in the work, and know the tools you need for the hunt.